This, the barest bones of an Orkney-Cromarty chambered cairn - yeah, very much minus the cairn nowadays - is about as far removed from the great Balnacrae seen earlier this trip as perhaps my imagination will allow. And, to be fair, I can imagine quite a lot. Sitting unobtrusively near the coastal A894 a little west of Laxford Bridge, the monument is nevertheless beguiling.... small, yet perfectly formed might well be an apt description.
According to Audrey Henshall (1963), as you might expect up here on this wild 'n windy coastline, fifteen orthostats (apparently of wondrous gneiss) remain in situ, the tallest a modest 3ft 8ins in height. These form a two sectioned chamber (the outer rectangular, the more substantial inner, oval) originally accessed by a portalled passage some 7ft in length to the south-east.
Now although the chambered cairn occupies a low-lying position upon grassland beside the Traigh Bad na Baighe, the outlook presented to a weary, yet well satisfied traveller chilling out within is certainly expansive, the plaudits (in my opinion) going to the view looking eastward toward the distant summit of Sàil Mhór, with Foináven to its left... also north-east across Traigh Bad na Baighe and Laxford Bay, colours muted by the overcast light subject to occasional irradiance as the evening sun refuses to submit to bland uniformity. Although, having said that, the elegant profile of Ben Stack looming above the little hamlet of Badnabay to the south-east is pretty fine, too. Such is the nature of the topography here that aspects toward the other points of the compass are more localised, craggy hill sides the order of the day.
As I sit and drink my coffee a muciferous slug, riding a trail of seemingly unparalleled viscosity, makes its laboured, slimy way toward the top of the tallest chamber stone. 'Al', as I duly christen it - being ignorant of how to determine the sex of gasteropod land molluscs, but pretty adept at the morals (or rather lack of them) of politicians - doesn't quite make it. A portent of the future, perhaps? Whatever the ultimate outcome of human conflict instigated by the egos of such people - whether cyclical fluctuations of the political status quo, or death and destruction by armed conflict, for me locations such as Badnabay place things into some sort of context. We may come and go, but when all is said and done Nature will carry on sorting the good ideas from the bad according to her selective algorithm. Hmm. Writer Neil Gunn (his memorial encountered at Heights of Brae) would no doubt have been able to elaborate upon this theme better than I.
Time flies and I must move on in order to achieve an Inverpolly wild camp before dark. Needless to say such are the archaeological riches of this magical coastline that that proves a very tall order. Cnoc An Daimh sees to that.